Today in 1939, the opening day of the World’s Fair in New York.

Pretty much every one of the old World’s Fairs made some news, but this one also made news about the way you could get the news.

One of the inventions featured there was a newspaper that was delivered to you over the radio.

I don’t mean that you could tune in to a radio station and hear someone read the news.

It’s that you could get a radio broadcast that would send you a newspaper that your set would print out.

The idea wasn’t that different from a fax machine, which would send visual information through a phone line so that a similar device could print the information out.

It came from William G.H. Finch, who worked for International News Service and ended up with a number of patents related to facsimile machines.

He started selling radio sets with built-in printers.

At night customers could set those radios to frequencies owned by newspaper publishers, and overnight those publishers would scan and transmit newspapers over those radio stations just as they sent them to their printers.

Then the people could wake up to the morning paper printed right there by their radios, and newspapers wouldn’t have to spend so much money on paper and printing and delivery.

In addition to being featured at the World’s Fair, there were actually radio newspaper projects in a bunch of cities, including New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Nashville.

But these didn’t last long, mostly because there was hardly any demand for the idea.

Getting newspapers via radio meant buying a more expensive radio set and keeping it filled with paper, while also remembering to tune the radio to the right station at night, and hoping there was no static during the broadcast which could interfere with the news transmission or a paper jam that could mess up the printing.

It was way easier to just get a newspaper delivered or buy one at a newsstand, and to listen to the radio for radio programs.

The efforts to conserve paper during World War II finished the idea off for good.

And as time went on, people were growing more and more interested in another idea that was featured at the 1939 World’s Fair: television.

Weird Universe just pointed us toward an unusual feature of Michigan State University.

The Abrams Planetarium is also home to the Moist Towelette Museum, a collection of some of the handiest wipes you’ll ever need to clean up on the go.

Don’t miss out on the museum’s collection of Star Trek-themed towelettes!

A Look Back at the Radio Newspaper of the Air (Radio World)

Moist Towelette Museum (Weird Universe)

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Image via Nationaal Archief/Flickr